San Francisco 49ers: How Much Does Frank Gore Have Left in the Tank?

Dan MoriCorrespondent INovember 11, 2013

Frank Gore darts away from potential tacklers.
Frank Gore darts away from potential tacklers.

At an age when most NFL running backs have long disappeared from the league or have seen their ability decline, Frank Gore is still at the top of his game.

Gore is 30 years of age and in his ninth NFL season. He is still going strong and showing no signs of slowing down. Gore is a freak of nature in this regard. 

In 2013, Gore is well on his way to his seventh 1,000-yard season. Through the first nine games of the year, Gore has already rushed for 700 yards on 162 attempts, a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. 

The real question for Gore and the San Francisco 49ers is how long can he continue to play at such an elite level?

Gore has missed only 12 regular-season games out of a possible 137 in his illustrious career. Durability has been a trademark of Gore. Before the end of the season, Gore stands a good chance of becoming only the 28th running back in NFL history to rush for over 10,000 yards for his career. 

Gore's durability can be attributed to his conditioning, running style and some good fortune. Gore is an incredibly hard worker during the season and with his offseason training regimen.

At 5'9" and 215 pounds, Gore runs very low to the ground with a positive lean. This makes it tough for the opposition to get underneath his pads and get clean hits on his legs.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has done a good job keeping Gore fresh. He will rotate Kendall Hunter into the game periodically to give Gore a rest. In addition, when the 49ers are able to take a commanding lead, Harbaugh also takes Gore out of the game. 

Emmitt Smith played 13 of his 15 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.
Emmitt Smith played 13 of his 15 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, played until he was 35 years of age. Second on the all-time list, Walter Payton played through age 33.

Over the course of his career, Gore has carried the ball 2,073 times for 9,539 yards. He ranks third among active players, behind only Steven Jackson and Adrian Peterson. His career average is a very strong 4.6 yards per carry.

Gore can also catch the ball out of the backfield. He has 325 career receptions for 2,748 yards. He is also one of the best running backs in the league in terms of blitz pickup. It is his blocking that is the most underrated part of his game, but it is one of his best attributes. 

Gore is the heart and soul of the 49ers offense. He is a complete player in every sense of the term.

Frank Gore is the 49ers' all-time leading rusher.
Frank Gore is the 49ers' all-time leading rusher.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As one of the 49ers' team leaders, Gore has earned the respect of his teammates, coaches and opponents with his focus, work ethic and overall toughness.

A truly great player, Gore is loved and respected by his coaches, teammates and 49ers fans. At this stage of his career, based on his conditioning, there really is no reason why Gore can't continue to play at a very high level for another three-plus seasons.

It will be a sad day when Gore finally hangs 'em up, but for now, 49ers fans can enjoy and appreciate his brilliance.